A Free Little Library has launched in Dubai's Jumeirah 1 neighbourhood

Keen readers use an honesty system to donate and borrow books from the mini-library

The Free Little Library concept is a place to share your pre-loved books, and to pick up something new. Courtesy Kelly Harvarde
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A Dubai family has launched a Free Little Library outside their Jumeirah 1 villa. Along with a bench to sit on and read, the mini-library is a place for members of the community to pass on books they have loved to fellow readers, or pick up something new to read, completely free.

Dubai residents Kelly Harvarde and Alex Jeffries had their Free Little Library custom-built by a Satwa carpenter. Their colourful library is now open and fully stocked with wonderful reads.

According to Harvarde, the concept is simple: "Take a book. If you see something you’d like to read, take it. You don’t have to give a book at the same time as you take one. And share a book. After you’ve read it, share it in any Little Free Library book-sharing box, bring it back here, or pass it on to a friend. Be a friend of all libraries, big and small. Share books whenever you can."

Kelly Harvarde and Alex Jeffries's daughter Aya organising the family's Little Free Library. Harvarde

"Our Little Free Library doesn't just belong to us, it belongs to the whole community," Harvarde adds. With her husband, Jeffries, and members of her local community, Harvarde also runs an annual Dubai Ramadan fridge, which hands out iftar packs every evening throughout the holy month.

“It’s our hope that this Little Free Library will bring a little more joy, a little more connection and a whole lot more books to our community,” she says. “We saw how beautifully the community came together during Ramadan, when we fed 1200 people a night from the Ramadan fridge outside our villa. Neighbours came together and our community became friends. This Little Free Library builds on the bonds we created together.”

Free Little Libraries are a global phenomenon. Typically found in front of people's homes, in their front gardens or in community spaces, they have popped up in more than 85 countries globally, with an estimated 75,000 libraries sharing books for free. Each year, nearly 10 million books are shared around the world.

A non-profit organisation, Free Little Libraries has been honoured by the US's Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation and American Library Association.

Little Free Libraries in the UAE 

The Jumeirah 1 library is not the first to pop-up in the UAE. There are now a total of five registered Little Free Libraries in the emirates, with one in Al Ain city, two in central Abu Dhabi and two in Dubai.

Tareq Alzarouni, who is behind the Al Ain library seems to have brought the first Free Little Library to the UAE. He told the organisation of his project: "On my last visit to Canada I noticed a little library in a Toronto neighbourhood, I liked the idea, then I decided to build my own library next to my house in my country, and it seems that I'm the first one in my country to do so."

In Abu Dhabi city, you'll find the libraries in Sas Al Nakhl Village and Rihan Heights; in Dubai the second registered free library is located at Jumeirah College.

Where the UAE's Little Free Libraries are located: